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Phenomenology is different from the social action approach in that it denies the possibility of explaining social action. It emphases is upon the internal workings of the human mind and the way that humans classify and make sense of the world around them. It is not concerned with the casual explanations of human behaviour in the same way as other perspectives. Phenomenologists try to understand the meaning of phenomena or things rather than explaining how they came into existence.
The general approach adopted by phenomenology is a type of knowledge rather than a sociological perspective. Alfred Schutz was the first to try to explain how phenomenology could be applied to develop insights into the social world.
The main contribution of Schutz was to insist that the way that humans classified and attached meaning to the outside world was not a purely individual process.
Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex